The fruity, no-nonsense French red that's perfect for summer's casual meals.
In this country, we usually think about Beaujolais around Thanksgiving, when Beaujolais Nouveau that very young, very fresh wine that's just a few weeks old is released. And while Beaujolais wine (nouveau as well as older Beaujolais) is indeed delicious with the Thanksgiving meal, it's also an excellent choice at other times of the year, particularly in summer. In France, Beaujolais is poured generously and often, especially in bistros and brasseries, and just about anytime there's a picnic or al fresco meal.
Beaujolais wine is made from the gamay grape in an area called Beaujolais, which is in the Burgundy region of France. In terms of flavor, Beaujolais is generally speaking redolent with ripe red fruit aromas and fruit-juicy flavors. It also has relatively high acidity.
Although all Beaujolais wine is made from the gamay grape, all the types of Beaujolais do not taste alike. Beaujolais can, in fact, be grouped into three basic categories, according to body and richness:
Light-Bodied Beaujolais This category includes basic Beaujolais and Beaujolais Nouveau, which is released just a few weeks after the grapes are picked.
Medium-Bodied Beaujolais Wine made from gamay grapes grown in the northern part of the Beaujolais region have more body than basic Beaujolais and Beaujolais Nouveau. These medium-bodied reds are called Beaujolais-Villages.
Full-Bodied Beaujolais The finest wines made in the Beaujolais region are called Beaujolais Cru. The labels of these wines don't have the word "Beaujolais" on them because each is named after the village where the its grapes were grown. The 10 "Cru" are: Régnié, Chiroubles, Brouilly, and C“te de Brouilly, which are all somewhat lighter than the other, more complex Crus, which include Morgon, Chénas, Juliénas, Fleurie, Saint-Amour and Moulin-…-Vent.
All Beaujolais should be served slightly chilled (about 55 F), or cool, room temperature. Given the fruitiness and the acidity of Beaujolais, they are the perfect accompaniment to rich foods such as pté and sausages, since they "cut" through the fat. Beaujolais can also be paired with salmon or tuna, and of course, with bistro-style dishes such as roast chicken or steak-frites. And when cold weather arrives, do as the French do and reach for Beaujolais when you serve pot-au-feu (pot roast) or just about any soup or stew. When shopping for Beaujolais, there are many excellent brands, however those from Georges du Boeuf the ones with the flowered labels may be the easiest to distinguish. Du Boeuf has long specialized in Beaujolais, and can be depended upon to deliver the freshness, the fruit and the vibrancy that Beaujolais is known
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